Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sunday Morning Links

Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- To the extent corporatist voices are pushing increased private involvement in funding Canadian health care, their main argument generally involves the claim that private insurers will be more willing to fund expensive courses of treatment which might be rationed out of public plans. But Don Butler reports that at least one of the major private insurers is taking exactly the opposite view in describing the future of private prescription drug insurance:
Private drug plans that provide coverage to 19 million Canadians are not sustainable in their current form, according to an executive at Great West Life Assurance, one of Canada’s largest insurance companies.
While the cost of “maintenance drugs” to control such things as blood pressure and cholesterol levels has risen by 58 per cent since 2005, Martinez said the biggest threat is the skyrocketing cost of new biologic and specialty drugs.
Traditionally, employers have responded by raising premiums or copayments for employees. “But that’s not sustainable, either,” Martinez said in an interview. New management techniques are essential, she said.

For example, Great West Life has begun to use case management in cases involving high-cost drug claims, Martinez said. “If you are taking a very high-cost drug, we are going to appoint a case manager to your case who’s going to monitor your use of the drug and your physician’s prescribing of the drug.”
Other conference participants said the best solution would be the creation of a government-run program of universal pharmacare that would cover all Canadians.

“Every developed country in the world with a universal health care system provides universal coverage for drugs, except Canada,” said Steve Morgan, associate director of the Centre for Health Services and Policy Research at the University of British Columbia.

Those countries all spend far less on prescription drugs than Canadians spend, and their citizens have better access to essential drugs than Canadians do, Morgan said.
- Haroon Siddiqui rightly approves of Barack Obama's work to eliminate the perpetual fear and panic pushed by Republicans over the past decade-plus, while contrasting it against Stephen Harper's fear-building in Canada.

- Frances Russell writes about the folly of the Northern Gateway pipeline.

- Finally, I'll second PLG's take on the lesson the NDP should draw about narrative from British Columbia's recent provincial election. But I'll expand on it slightly by pointing out the ultimate failure of a branding effort built around genuine comparative fiscal prudence.

After all, the B.C. NDP publicly pointed out the implausibility of Christy Clark's budget numbers and thus offered less than it could have as to the shape of an NDP government - presumably based on the theory that it would fit with a "responsible managers" message. But the choice looks to have been almost entirely forgotten through the course of the campaign - meaning that the Libs won by simultaneously scaremongering about deficits, and promising to maintain higher deficits and debt levels through their platform.


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